Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Valley of the Dinosaurs

I suppose many of us have dinosaur wishlists. At the top of mine right now is The Giant Golden Book of Dinosaurs, featuring the illustrations of Rudolf Zallinger. If you haven't seen yesterday's Vintage Dinosaur Art post, you'll see why: the primitive paintings I was delighted by when I saw them decorating the shuttle at Dinosaur National Monument turn out to be highly derivative of Zallinger's Giant Golden Book work. This is one I haven't come across in my excursions to junkshops and antique stores. I suppose I could buy a used copy online, but that would kill the thrill of the hunt, wouldn't it?

Another piece of vintage dinosaur kitsch near the top of my wishlist is the DVD collection of Valley of the Dinosaurs, released last year by Warner Home Video.

The show was a Saturday morning staple in the '70s, and has been featured on the Boomerang network, along with a bunch of other old Hanna-Barbera toons and more recent Cartoon Network shows. Its concept is pretty similar to Land of the Lost, though changed so that the core characters are two nuclear families, one of modern humans and one of cave-people. In fact, if Wikipedia is to be trusted, the shows actually debuted on the same day and aired for roughly the same amount of time, though only 16 episodes of Valley were produced. Being a WB property, it's not available on Youtube, other than a couple rips of the intro and some official promos.





One Valley item has made it into my collection, though: an old puzzle.

Valley of the Dinosaurs puzzle

I'd love to see a reboot of this, only upping the scientific accuracy and setting the family in a specific age of the Mesozoic, perhaps setting them among one of the communities of the Jehol biota. I appreciate the old-fashioned depiction of the Mesozoic Valley offers, but I'd like to see shows other than Dinosaur Train explore dinosaurs in a way that reflects the amazing discoveries of the last twenty years, and do it with some depth.

For a good review of the show, check out Michael May's write-up on the series from last year. Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law also visited the valley, though there's a distressing paucity of dinosaur action in the episode.

One final bit of cool trivia with local interest for me: the voice of Greg Butler was provided by Jackie Earle Haley, most famous in Bloomington as Moocher in the movie Breaking Away (required viewing for new Bloomingtonians), although he may be better known as Rorshach in the Watchmen movie and the new Freddy Krueger.

7 comments:

  1. Gosh. I still have my childhood copy of that book, and I could swear I picked up another copy of it when I found it at a thrift store, just because I couldn't let it stay there. Not sure but I'll have a look.

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  2. I too have a couple copies of the giant golden book. I loved it so much I couldn't pass up a sweet deal when I saw it again. It went through so many printings that I'm sure you'll find one sooner or later.

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  3. "but that would kill the thrill of the hunt, wouldn't it?"

    Not in my opinion. The real thrill (for me) is finally seeing the vintage paleoart in person.

    "The show was a Saturday morning staple in the '70s, and has been featured on the Boomerang network, along with a bunch of other old Hanna-Barbera toons and more recent Cartoon Network shows. Its concept is pretty similar to Land of the Lost,"

    I thought it came off as a cross btwn "Land of the Lost" & "Scooby-Doo".

    "In fact, if Wikipedia is to be trusted, the shows actually debuted on the same day and aired for roughly the same amount of time, though only 16 episodes of Valley were produced."

    If the 2nd vid is any indication, I can understand why. Not even 1.5 minutes passed b-4 I wanted to see the main characters get eaten by something, be it the whiny cave girl who can't make up her mind about anything or the irresponsible elders who knowingly sent their kids off into dangerous territory unsupervised.

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    1. Yeah, I don't have the money to be a dedicated collector. I don't have the temperament, either. I hate accumulating things. I just pick books up for cheap when I come across them or gratefully accept those that people find and are kind enough to give me.

      It's par for the course for Hanna Barbera toons, but the dinosaur angle is enough for me.

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  4. Yes, if memory serves, they premiered on the same Saturday and (damned networks!) opposite each other. I stuck with Land of the Lost.

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    1. Now that's some TV strategizing I'd love to get some insight into.

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  5. I can't really remember my logic, especially as the non-dinosaur sci fi elements of LotL didn't show up in the first few episodes. After awhile, though, LotL had dinosaurs AND weird-ass sci fi, and VotD just had dinosaurs. Come to think of it, it may have been the annoying kids and dog in VotD that put me off...

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